TV Cream

Your Wednesday Night In...

Your Wednesday Night In… May 1987

Wednesday, 27th May 1987


In the space of just three months, Paul Heiney must learn how to cut the hair of a “celebrity lady” for a “gala West End occasion”. Exchanging his tank top for a baggy shirt and linen trousers, our man embarks on a formidable apprenticeship which involves sweeping the floor, disinfecting combs and shampooing Anita Harris. The search for a “celebrity lady” doesn’t go well, alas (“Over 100 beautiful women have said no”), as Paul leafs through the ‘L’ section of Spotlight gazing fruitlessly at Liza Goddard and Lorraine Chase. But eventually, no less a figure than Jilly Cooper consents to be subjected to something called The Shake (“What’s that?” “Mousse!”) for her appearance at the British Hairdressing Awards, an event that is plainly an A-list shindig (“The compere for the evening… Jan Leeming!”). Needless to say, our hero’s efforts are nothing short of a triumph. Sort of.


Best described as a sort of digital Paint Along With Nancy (although not as good as that sounds), this series gave a quartet of artists the chance to trade their palettes for the Quantel Paintbox, the 1980s graphics package forever described as a “box of tricks” and responsible for both the triumphant futuristic cityscapes in The Tripods and the earlier-today-a-woman-rang-the-BBC-era weather maps. In tonight’s session, veteran Australian painter Sir Sidney Nolan creates some “striking” collages involving Ned Kelly and helicopters.

It’s the question that has echoed through the generations: who is the finest tennis player of all time – John McEnroe or Rod Laver? And who better to settle this eternal conundrum once and for all than Pete Murray and Gloria Hunniford? In this short-lived series, two celebrity advocates attempted to resolve a succession of sporting pub arguments, making their case for “the greatest” to a jury of 12 neutrals under the jurisdiction of Brian Moore. Although we’d rather have watched a programme which decided who’s the greatest, Pete Murray or Gloria Hunniford?

9.05pm THE MEDIA SHOW, Channel 4
The ITV mafia might have got the network together for Brucie, but not for everyone else, as this forensic investigation into the light channel set out to prove. In short, the “Big Five” stitched up the schedules to ensure a slot for a string of hopeless Yorkshire TV sitcoms, while the TSW bra never made it into primetime. The programme also promised an audit of TVS, the most bitter critics of the ITV power game, although it probably didn’t help that Number 73 was well down the dumper by this point.



  1. THX 1139

    May 30, 2018 at 11:19 am

    Never mess with a woman’s hair, Paul. Never.

    If only On Safari had made it to primetime. Imagine the possibilities.

  2. Richard16378

    May 30, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    In At The Deep End was about the only show mentioned I remember.

    In the 1990s there was a similar show were people with similar jobs swapped over.

    also Jobs For The Girls with Pauline Quirk & Linda Robson, a few years later, featuring a pre-fame James Blunt in one edition.

  3. Glenn Aylett

    May 30, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    If you speak of hopeless Yorkshire sitcoms, one still exists on ITV 3 every afternoon, You’re Only Young Twice. This was hopeless 40 years ago, and now looks possibly prehistoric with its wobbly sets and complete lack of jokes. I wonder if as ITV isn’t known for making many great sitcoms, Twice has been dug up as it fills the schedule and since all the cast are dead, there are no royalties to pay.
    OTOH George and Mildred is still class and makes me laugh every night.

  4. Richard16378

    May 31, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    I’ve often wondered why ITV has had such a jinx with sitcoms, occasionally they can strike gold, but at a much lower rate than the BBC or even Channel 4.

    • Glenn Aylett

      June 2, 2018 at 3:18 pm

      @ Richard 16378, the BBC employed the best scriptwriters, they had a tradition of making excellent comedy that dated back to The Goon Show, and they didn’t have a commercial break to interrupt an amusing storyline. ITV made some real stinkers and tended to think that placing a top name actor in a sitcom( Michael Crawford’s only ITV sitcom is possibly one of the worst ever) would give them a hit. However, they did score some successes in the late seventies with Rising Damp, George and Mildred, Only When I Laugh and In Loving Memory, so all wasn’t lost at ITV, and Kenny Everett’s work for ITV is seen as better than his BBC shows.

      • Richard16378

        June 3, 2018 at 8:20 pm

        It’s interesting that David Renwick mostly worked on ITV until the late 1980s, but once he started to get regular BBC commissions his reputation really shot up.

        • THX 1139

          June 3, 2018 at 11:54 pm

          In the 1970s Renwick’s End of Part One had a cult reputation having been buried away on Sunday afternoons on ITV, but among radio listeners he was already well-regarded as the brains behind Radio 4’s The Burkiss Way, with Andrew Marshall.

  5. Droogie

    June 3, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    I remember Painting With Light. I was doing A Level Art at the time, so watched anything on TV involving painting. I particularly recall the episode where the guest artist was David Hockney. Making digital art on this show must’ve inspired him, as he’d go on to make those wonderful landscapes using an iPad years later. I’d love to see one of these shows again just to see how primitive the Quantel Paintbox software looks now. You can make more detailed artwork on your phone these days.

    • Adrian

      January 17, 2024 at 4:19 pm

      I seem to recall endless scratching using a stylus and pad..

  6. Glenn Aylett

    June 3, 2018 at 5:19 pm

    I always thought Paul Heiney was unlucky with his challenges for In At The Deep End. I can remember an earlier show where he tried to be a stand up comedian and made up a comedy song about moving to Mayfair that the audience completely blanked in a comedy club. Poor chap, he always struck me as really enthusiastic and to his credit, never felt any malice when his challenges failed.

  7. Sidney Balmoral James

    January 13, 2024 at 11:10 pm

    Slightly astonishing that the BBC could get artists of the calibre of Hockney and Nolan to muck about with a crappy computer programme. Not however as entertaining as that South Bank Show when Francis Bacon got Melvyn Bragg pissed.

    • Richardpd

      January 14, 2024 at 12:42 pm

      The was one computer show in the 1980s that managed to get Tom Baker & Douglas Adams to appear on it. At least Adams was a computer buff who was supposedly the first person to own an Apple Mac in the UK, with Stephen Fry the second.

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